( Photo Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images North America )

By: Jack Gotsell | Follow me on Twitter @jackgotsell

It’s been 15 seasons since Joe Thornton last wore the black and gold sweater. Could a return to Boston for the former Bruins Captain be possible? Well, I’d say it’s certainly not out of the question.

The Bruins are entering a flat cap season and every dollar is going to count. If Sean Kuraly can be used in a trade to help improve the top-six or defense the Bruins are going to need to replace him with a cheaper option on the fourth line. Joe Thornton started his career in Boston and Jumbo Joe could finish his career here as well as have a crack at the elusive Stanley Cup.

Jumbo Joe was a leader in Boston before he left and was captain of the Bruins for three seasons. The season he split between Boston and San Jose, Thornton took home the Art Ross and Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. His first full season in San Jose Thornton lit the league on fire with 114 points. Although that was 14 years ago and Thornton is no longer a top-six forward for most teams and certainly not the Boston Bruins. One the other hand, the Bruins did have interest in Thornton at last seasons trade deadline.

This Season Thornton scored seven goals and had 24 assists for 31 points in 70 games. The former Bruin could be a slight upgrade to Kuraly at a cheaper cap hit allowing the Bruins to reallocate that money to help improve the offense or defense. If the Bruins do not move Kuraly it may not make sense to bring in Thornton.

Charlie Coyle is the current third-line center of the Bruins and he can also play wing. Although, that does not mean he should be playing wing. Coyle is a much better center and looks a lot more comfortable there. Thornton at this point in his career would be a downgrade from Coyle on the third line and doesn’t appear to be a fit anywhere in a healthy Bruins top-nine.

Why would Joe Thornton leave San Jose? Thornton has play 22 seasons, over 1,000 games, and never lifted the Stanley Cup. San Jose is going through some changes and it’s up in the air whether or not they will truly be contending next season. Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson has also not confirmed if they plan to bring Thornton back next season. Could his history with Boston and his thirst to drink from Lord Stanley’s Cup be enough to lure Jumbo Joe to Boston on a league-minimum deal?

I took a poll of Bruins fan’s desire to see Thornton come back to Boston and it was very mixed. Ultimately, Bruins fans decided by a slight margin that they would like to see Thornton get one more chance to win in Boston. Not sure it will happen but what a story it would be to see Jumbo Joe return to Boston get his elusive Stanley Cup and retire a Boston Bruin.